Festival Review + Photos: Vans Warped Tour at the Fairplex (Pomona, CA)

Vans Warped Tour
Feat. Pierce The Veil (San Diego, CA), The Used (Orem, UT), Sleeping With Sirens (Orlando, FL), Taking Back Sunday (Long Island, NY), and Bayside (New York City, NY),
June 22nd, 2012
The Fairplex in Pomona, CA

About a month ago my kid sister Melanie woke me up to tell me that one of her favorite bands was playing Warped Tour and hinted -not subtle at all by the way- that she wished someone would take her.  I thought back to my first Warped Tour -I don’t remember how old I was but I remember being amazed that all these bands that I loved were so accessible.  I also remember how stoked I was for getting to meet Thought Riot, NOFX, Bad Religion, and Thursday among others as the Warped Tour years went by.  As I stood behind countless barricades with a camera I vowed that I would get to be in front of it someday. I went consecutively for about 5 years and then stopped. For the record, the last time I attended a Warped Tour was in 2008.  But I decided I would take her because I wanted her to have memories like these of her own. About 2 weeks after that decision the opportunity to shoot the festival came and it was perfect.  I can’t say that a lot has changed about Warped Tour in 4 years time except for: needing a ticket to attend an artist meet-and-greet (lame), and the prices dropped on beverages (awesome).  But you still need to hydrate like it’s everybody’s business, you need to bring a Costco size bottle of sunblock with you and reapply at least every 4 hours, those free hug people are still around (rad), you check the schedule board as soon as you get inside, and familiarize yourself with all the stages so you don’t miss any band you’d like to see.

First thing on our to-do-list was see Pierce The Veil, so off we went to the Kia Rio stage.  These dudes are unapologetically  proud of their Mexican roots. I was surprised their intro included typical Mexican folk music right before their heavy guitars kick in. Nice!  They played about 6 songs including “King For A Day” with a guest appearance from Kellin Quinn lead vocalist of Sleeping With Sirens. They admitted that this was the first time they played to a crowd as big as the one at Warped Tour. Also, towards the end of their set one lucky fan named Judy got picked to come on stage and have the band’s lead vocalist Vic sing “Yeah Boy and Doll Face” to her. Those boys pack a lot of energy into the performance and put on a heck of a show. It had been a while since I had been in a crowd where girls are screaming at every sighting of a band member.  But the way they swing their guitars around by their straps and jump into the crowd it’s hard not to be stoked. The screaming was something I got used to as the day went on. Mostly because Melanie was doing it too.

After Pierce The Veil’s set we ran off to buy one of those lemon icy-thingys and a bottle of water.  I also thought it was the perfect time to reapply sunblock before we had to be back at the Kio Rio stage to see The Used. They started off their set with “Take It Away” and the crowd went wild. Bert McCracken is as animated on stage as you would think.  A great showman he had the whole crowd eating out of his palm the whole set.

The only Sleeping With Sirens song I knew before Warped Tour was “Let Love Bleed Red” and it may or may not be because of Aaron Marsh‘s guest vocals. I can honestly say that their performance was one of my favorites from Warped Tour.  Those dudes have amazing stage presence and keep so much going on during their set. They continuously interact with their audience too, it’s awesome.  They also had a guest appearance from Matty Mullins lead vocalist of Memphis May Fire to the crowd’s delight.

After Sleeping With Sirens we ran off to see Taking Back Sunday at the Kia Soul stage. I had always wanted to see Taking Back Sunday and with news that John Nolan was back I sure wasn’t going to miss it. Admittedly, it had been a while since I had listened to any TBS but they reminded me of why I loved their music so much in the first place -all the energy!  They played a nice mix of new songs and old songs. They even played “Timberwolves At New Jersey” which I had always wanted to hear live. I can’t wait to see these dudes again.

I remember the last two times I went to Warped Tour Bayside played.  But they always played first and I somehow always managed to miss them. I remember the first year was because my friend and I got there right after their set, and the second year we couldn’t find the stage. So I was super stoked when I found out they were playing towards the end and I knew exactly where the Tillys’ stage was.  Bayside is one of those bands I love but just never had the time to see for one reason or another.  But they killed it. I was determined to purchase a Bayside t-shirt but I figure I should get one when I really earn it.  For that I’m going to have to see them play their own show. No excuses next time.

Warped Tour was very different and very awesome from the other side of the barricade.   I got to see and take pictures of some of the bands I had been wanting to see for a while. Plus I finally caught Bayside!  Melanie won’t stop talking about how cool Warped Tour was and is making plans for next year.  Mission accomplished. Thanks Warped Tour for the warm fuzzies and for making a large portion of everyone’s summer for years!

*Special thanks to Melanie for helping me with song titles and band member names of her favorites.* 

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